SP Energy Networks signs two-year flexibility deal with Piclo

SP Energy Networks has signed a two-year contract with Piclo to use its independent marketplace to procure flexibility services.

As the first distribution network operator (DNO) to sign up to Piclo’s new expanded end-to-end service, SP Energy Networks will not only use the platform for advertisement and procurement but also for dispatch and settlement.

The company said the deal will simplify the experience for flexibility providers by removing the need for them to use multiple different platforms.

Gerard Boyd, head of flexibility at SP Energy Networks, said: “Harnessing distributed network flexibility will be instrumental in facilitating the transition to net zero at the lowest overall cost to UK customers.

He continued: “To increase the participation of flexibility service providers (FSPs), we need to listen to and address the challenges that they are facing. One common theme is that it is too complex to take part.

“The latest developments with Piclo are a game-changer for us, and hopefully our FSPs.  By having all of our flexibility services procured, dispatched and settled on a single platform, we can operate in a more agile way, whilst simplifying the way customers engage with our flexibility needs.”

Speaking to Utility Week over the summer, Piclo chief executive James Johnston said their platform was already being used for dispatch and settlement as part of the Electricity System Operator’s trial of a local constraint market. He these functions would shortly be carried over DNO markets.

Commenting on the new deal, Johnston said: “We’re thrilled to announce that SP Energy Networks (SPEN) is the first UK distribution system operator to sign up for our end-to-end platform offering, resulting in a radically simpler and improved experience for FSPs.

“Our goal has always been to increase transparency and lower transaction costs for local flexibility markets. FSPs participating in SPEN competitions can not only bid, operate, and settle via a single platform but also utilise our state-of-the-art APIs to automate their end-to-end workflows.”

Piclo’s flexibility platform is also used by UK Power Networks, Electricity North West and Northern Powergrid, the last of which signed a new two-year contract in July.

UK Power Networks has now announced plans to procure up to 850MW of flexibility through the Piclo platform as part of its largest tender to date.

The company is seeking to procure both demand turn-up and reduction across 452 zones in London, the South East and the East of England. It became the first DNO to award contracts for demand turn-up and generation turn-down in May.

Alex Howard, head of flexibility markets at UK Power Networks’ Distribution System Operator (DSO), said: “We’ve been offering flexibility opportunities for several years now but this latest tender round is our biggest. It demonstrates how we are opening our networks through the use of technology and data.

“We need flexible assets on our network to cut costs for our customers and maximise the generation of renewable energy options which are so crucial for helping us achieve net zero.”

Michael Evans, lead flexibility analyst at Octopus Energy Group, said “We’re excited to continue working with UK Power Networks, who as the first GB DSO to launch a demand turn-up service has been able to rapidly unlock domestic energy flexibility opportunities where our customers benefit from green electricity that would otherwise be wasted.”

Since 2018, UK Power Networks has awarded contracts to 38 companies for nearly 2GW of flexibility.